How to Grow: Seed & Plant Catalogs

Learn about seed and plant catalogs including how to select the best varieties for your garden.

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It used to be New Years meant a slew of seed and plant catalogs filling my mailbox. Now the catalogs start arriving in November, but I still never get around to perusing them until after the holidays.

Seed and plant catalogs are a good place to shop. They offer unique varieties at an affordable price. Where else can you find a plum-shaped Green Zebra tomato or a non self-sowing cleome flower. And now most catalogs are on-line versions with even more photos and descriptions. But before you go oohing and ahhing over every picture of gorgeous flowers and vegetables, it’s good to know a little about the catalogs. First of all, don’t judge a flower variety solely based on the catalog. The photos are eye candy and in your garden the shade and vibrancy may be different. Read the description carefully. When it says neon pink, it probably means it! Then look on-line at any photos you can find of that flower. These may be more accurate than the catalog photo.

For vegetables, read the descriptions carefully. If the tomato variety says late maturing and you live on top of a mountain, it may not ripen before frost. I always look for disease resistance. Some devastating diseases, such as late blight on tomatoes, can be avoided by growing resistant varieties. Read between the lines. A “mild tasting” variety might taste bland to you. A “vigorous growing plant” might turn out to be a monster.

I also like to support regional seed companies with trial grounds. It keeps the money local and because they have trialed these varieties, if they grow well for them, they should perform well for you.

And now for this week’s tip, even though it’s tempting to knock the ice and snow off your shrubs and trees, don’t do it. You are more likely to break the branches removing the ice than if you let Mother Nature slowly melt it.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio

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